This summer we spent about 10 days on the Dalmatian island Vis, the farthest island from Croatia´s mainland. As the island was once a military zone and therefore inaccessible to all foreigners it has retained its charm and can truly be called “the Mediterranean as it once was”. We like Vis because of its uncrowded beaches, little stone house villages and the small islands around where you can amongst other swim in caves.
When: August 2014
Visited: Vis, Komiza, Rukavac, Stiniva, Stoncica, Budikovac, Bisevo, Ravnik, Hum
How: with our car
Stayed in: private apartment
Vis is reachable from SPLIT on the mainland by a ferry and a speed boat. If you are coming there from ITALY, you can catch a ferry from Ancona or a speedboat from Pescara. Timetables change depending on the season, so check the site of JADROLINIJA before you arrive and if you are visiting in the peak summer season take care that you arrive to Split 1-2 hrs before the ferry. All the ferrys land in the town of Vis, but its only about 20 km to KOMIZA on the other side of the island. There are public buses between Komiza and Vis town, but to get to the smaller villages you will need to organize your own transport. Better to fill up the tank in Split, because I believe there is only one gas station on the island.
There are some BIGGER HOTELS in Vis town and Komiza, but other than that there are mostly private rooms or apartments. If you are visiting in the high season it is better to book in advance! People who come to Vis are normally looking for peace so don´t expect some crazy party scene – if you want that then you should rather visit some other island instead. In the summer there are some festivals and concerts which you can attend though. We stayed in Rukovac in a private apartment with a beautiful big terrace and an even nicer sea view.
WHAT WE SAW & DID
1. VIS TOWN
Most probably the town of Vis will be your first contact to the island. If you still have to buy specific things after you leave the ferry you can do it here. It can get a bit hectic, because there will be many locals standing at the pier, offering rooms and some cars will stop and some will want to drive around them and so on. If you walk from one town end to another it will take you about half an hour. There are some nice beaches in the near, check out the Grandovac beach. Don´t forget to visit the FRANCISCAN CHURCH and MONASTERY. Anyway the whole island is not big and although there is much to see and do, you can reach all those places in a short time.
The bay of Rukavac lies ON THE SOUTH SIDE of the island and is surrounded with other small islands and amazing beaches. There are many private apartments and villas for rent, if you want a relaxed atmosphere this is the place to be. We also stayed here and it was perfect. Rukavac used to be a SMALL FISHING VILLAGE but nowadays it is big enough to even have three parts, the old, the upper and the lower Rukovac. In the last years the once 8 kilometres long gravel access road is an asphalt one, making Rukovac easily accessible from the main road. There are 2 restaurants in the village and NO SHOPS! But, they have a solution for that – every morning around 8AM a smaller truck drives around the village and beeps its horn – you have to come to the main road and you can buy fresh bread and pastry from the friendly guy. 3 times a week in the evenings comes also a van with fruits and vegetables. Besides that you can buy freshly caught fish from one of the boats that stop in the bay.
The main beach in Rukavac is TEPLUS BEACH, with a small pine wood where you can relax in the shade, the water is clear and the small bay is perfect for families also. If you want more privacy you can continue along the rocks and stop when you find a nice spot. When you leave the beach in the afternoon make sure you pick some rosemary or other herbs for the dinner on the way 😉
The bays around Rukavac are perfect for SUP (stand up paddle)! The kids will love to sit on it or jump from it also 😉
Only a few minutes by foot you come to one of the nicest beaches in the whole Croatia, SREBRNA BEACH. Here is everything you need – pine forest, nice big white stones (if you dislike lying on those you can hire a chair). There is also a small bar where you can buy ice cream, snacks and drinks. Stay at the beach until the sun starts to set, its soooo peaceful and nice!
Komiža is located at the foot of the HUM HILL (587 m) in a deep bay, whose eastern coast abounds with large pebble beaches. The town is very relaxed and less busy than Vis town, here you will see many sailing boats stopping for the night and lots of local fisherman. The PICTURESQUE STONE HOUSES, narrow alleys, bars and restaurants, small shops, food markets, churches and monasteries make an extraordinary atmosphere and it may just happen that you will have serious thoughts about prolonging your holiday.
4. BISEVO ISLAND
Bisevo is a SMALL ISLAND 5km south-west from Vis is reachable by a daily boat from Komiza and gets many visitors mostly because of its famous SEA CAVE (Modra spilja). Around noon the sunlight shines through the sea water into the cave and produces really amazing blue LIGHT REFLECTIONS. Wonder how this amazing BLUE LIGHT looks like under water? You can jump inside and take a look! There is also a nice beach where you can relax for a few hours.
5. STINIVA BEACH
This might be ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING BAYS IN THE WHOLE MEDITERRANEAN. It is reachable by foot on a steep path (maybe not the best idea with small children), but probably it is easier by boat. Looking towards it from the sea, you will not even notice it is a bay. It looks just like rock cliffs, but once you approach you see the two cliffs are just four metres from each other and through this gap the amazing pebble beach shows up. There is also a restaurant/bar with an amazing view as you can see 😉
6. STONCICA BEACH
Stoncica cove differs from others on the island mainly because it is a SANDY one. The underwater slightly decreases, so even after 30 metres or so the sea bottom is still shallow – makes it a perfect spot for young children also! There is enough shadow under the pine trees, where you also find a RESTAURANT that serves fresh seafood – you can even watch how they cook in their open air kitchen. There is also a smaller ice cream, snacks and drinks bar right at the entrance to the beach. The more active ones can play beach volley, there is a net. To reach Stoncica you have to drive through MILNA (which also has a nice cove!) and then park the car about 500 metres before the beach. So you have to walk the last part. From there you can also walk to the Stoncica lighthouse.
7. BUDIKOVAC ISLAND
There are actually 2 islands with the same name, only that one is big and the other one is small. The UNPOPULATED BIGGER ONE (Veli Budikovac) is only 3 kilometres away from the mainland and has two main beaches where you can enjoy all the peace in the world – one is in the bigger bay where there is also a bar and a restaurant and the other one is just a short walk to the other side of the island.
8. GREEN CAVE, ISLAND RAVNIK
The GREEN CAVE (Zelena spilja) is a natural attraction situated in the south-west part of a small island near Vis, RAVNIK. The sunlight passes through a small hole on the top of the cave producing the fascinating green colored surface of the sea within the cave – this is how the cave also got its name. You can go inside the cave with a boat and don´t forget to jump inside! SWIMMING IN CAVES is a great experience.
There are still some things on the island which I either did not mention or we had no time to visit them. Even though the beaches on the island are amazing, we did not just spend our time lying in the sun – Gin also did a ROUND CIRCLE ON THE ISLAND WITH A RENTED BICYCLE and says it was worth getting up very early in the morning. There are also more bays, coves and beaches and other interesting sites such as Tito´s 1944 cave (TITOVA SPILJA) or the former military airfield, used in the World War II.
VIS WITH KIDS
We love to visit Dalmatian islands with Lu because the weather is usually nice and the air is fresh – and so is the food! Straight from the sea onto the plate. PEBBLE BEACHES make a great natural playground and the best thing is, they are not overcrowded! We loved the peace and quiet on Vis! The only thing parents might worry about is the absence of a proper hospital in case something would happen, but we tend not to think of the worst case scenario and just enjoy.
If your kids only like SANDY BEACHES – no problem, there are also some! Stoncica for example. Just pack a proper sunscreen and you´ll be fine. Since there is not much traffic on the island it´s very safe for kids who love to run around freely. I´m sure we´ll be back one day!
To conclude – we had a great time on Vis and find it also very good for young children and families who don´t expect organized children animation activities or clubs, but want to simply RELAX and discover pristine Dalmatian towns, villages, caves and beaches. Buy some olive oil and a bottle of Vis wine to bring back the summer memories once you are home. We´ll be back!